Sunday, October 26, 2014

Finding the root cause...week 5 of #TheBestYes

“If people pleasing were my goal, I would never be Christ’s servant,” Galatians 1:10 NLT

“The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe, “Proverbs 29:25 NIV

Is the disease to please in anyone’s DNA, is it passed down through the nurture or lack thereof, through the generations of your family and not in your very nature?

I lived in a protective bubble the first four years of my life. My maternal grandfather was twenty one years older than my grandmother and from the moment he met me he decided he was going to utilize every moment he had with me because he just knew it wasn’t going to be much. This bubble had me on the outside of the demons in my family, it kept me blinded from the dangerous darkness that was lurking, waiting to punish me. I knew something was there, always feeling the cool and empty touch of my Uncle, seeing that my Father wasn’t welcome at family functions and when allowed there was a stink of hatred in the air but my Poppi kept me close and those enemies in my family as far away as he could. It is no wonder that when he died January of my fourth year I turned to God and declared war, I knew the charmed life I had was over, I knew something evil was coming for me and I told God he was a real jerk (not the word I really used) for only giving me protection for such a short time. I was a terrified, lonely and entirely too intelligent for my own good. So, I shook my small fists to heaven, put my head down, and hunched my shoulders preparing myself for this unknown battle in front of me.  Within weeks I knew what was so foul in my family, what was hated do deeply that we were feared in our neighborhood, because if you can feel this way about your own blood who knows how dangerous you really are: it was me. Turned out my beautifully unique, tan all year round skin tone and my midnight black hair were a constant reminder that I was not “pure blooded.” That when my Mother got pregnant with me at 18 she had chosen someone unlike anyone she ever had a chance to know until she started a city community college. We were a proud South Side Irish family. My Uncle the unofficial Mayor of an intentionally all-white neighborhood in Chicago and she had chosen a man who had recently come from Guatemala. By my fifth birthday, six months after I lost my Poppi, I knew that after two attempts to have me aborted my Nana and Poppi stopped speaking to my Mother throughout the rest of her pregnancy, that my Uncle upon being told I was on the way threw her down a flight of concrete stairs.
I was no longer gushed on I was gagged over. I was treated as a servant: only being accepted if I watched the other kids, made drinks, lit cigarettes, grabbed snacks, change the channel, allowed my Uncle and his extended family and friends to ridicule how I looked and bash my father, who at this point I considered scum as well for doing this to me, for making me so disgusting. Growing up the only time I was wanted was when I was doing something for my family more of the same but also as I grew older rides, bail money, an alibi. My Mom was so desperate for their forgiveness and love she never stood up for me and eventually my brother. The greatest gift my family ever gave me was letting me take it all and leave my helpless and doubly defective brother alone for the most part.

When I was saved by grace I first thought people pleasing or my issue with codependency was a part of my molecular being, it had to be after watching my pathetic Mother. As I have gotten closer to God and have more victory over this disease to please I see that I am not this way when the people around me aren’t demanding with their actions I be. When I am around healthy, Christ centered people I don’t grovel at their feet but walk beside them. The past four weeks at my home church the sermon series has been unmasking us from our shame, insecurities and today on overcoming our need to please. This past week with my online Bible study, #TheBestYes we also tackled this hard topic and for months God has been rewiring me to stop seeing myself as that rejected girl and accept myself as His chosen daughter, He has repeated this message to get deep down to the root lie that happened months into my conception: that I didn’t belong in this world and my existence ruined lives. God’s truth is clear; he formed me in my Mother’s womb, chose the very time and place I would be born and planed this fabulous skin tone of mine. The verse of the week for my online Bible Study, “If people pleasing were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant,” and I am proudly, passionately and born to be Christ’s servant. I will let God choose who I surround myself with, I will let God guide my choices, my words, my friends and every other moment of my life. You probably are wondering how I went from being that four year old girl who declared war on God to a disciple. How I can thank God for decades of that pain and harshness. I no longer fear man, I trust God and know God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I was saved by grace the moment I needed to be and every moment of my youth can be used to glorify Him and redeem me!

 “When someone makes a request of you, you should be able to make that decision without emotional consequences. And if you anticipate that telling them no will make them not like you – then you saying yes isn’t going to help that situation. It just won’t.” Lysa TerKeurst in “The Best Yes”

Monday, October 20, 2014

#TheBestYes, Week 4 a peak into The Day in the Life of Me

1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.
Psalm 23 (MSG)

It is incredibly frustrating and sometimes hurtful to see messages on FB, Twitter and TV commercials about people wanting to sleep 23 hours a day like the Koala bear or hibernate so that can have a chance to be rested, get away from the world for a bit and be able to hide away. That kind of life is a burden, it has its incredible blessings as well but for the most part no one would really want to do this for more than a weekend, trust me.
 I have lived the crazy life style, worked 13+ hour days, had people to get from here to there, dinner to make, dishes and laundry that no one else was going to do and oh yea maybe a moment for me in all the craziness. Now, my life is free from the rushing about but the tradeoff is being a prisoner in my home because of my health issues. I am blessed to have hours with God every day, the only thing standing in the way of my God time is my selfish desires and tendency to lounge when I am sickly but it can also be a burden to have time with others be limited because they carry the outside world on them no matter how cautious we may try to be.
I wake up when my body and God tell me it is time, I roll over and turn off my oxygen sleeping mask and tell God I love him and Good Morning even if it is late into the afternoon. I read my YouVersion Bible App verse of the day and then read a secular grief devo, a Max Lucado devo, two Beth Moore devos and Jesus Calling. I make sure to read scripture out loud and fill my room with the power and truth of His mighty word. I make breakfast\lunch or what for me is usually first meal out of two, watch a TV show or two and then proceed to spend the next few hours either in Bible Study with P31, preparing for one of very few times out of the house every month to my face to face Bible Study, study God’s word for myself, read devotionals, books and watch sermons. Occasionally meal two or dinner is with a friend who has come over bringing something delicious or we enjoy my cooking which I love to do but aren’t always strong enough to. I then watch a bit more TV and settle in for my evening time with the Lord which ends with me placing my head on the pillow and the YouVersion Bible App reading scripture to me thorough my yearly Bible in a year reading plan.
Yes, I get to have a close, unrushed, intimate relationship with God but I also don’t get to be out in the world sharing His good news, fellowshipping, supporting myself, go grocery shopping for myself or just take a drive and breathe in God’s beautiful earth. I struggle when we do Bible study about rushed lives because the enemy tells me I am a joke, I can’t relate to being overwhelmed in this world anymore but I God’s truth pours into me and reminds me that I did once live that way and if He chooses to heal me of my terminal illness I will need to be equipped to go into the world once again making #TheBestYes decisions, Holy decisions while fearing and honoring God and His wisdom for my life. If God doesn’t heal me until Heaven I can still and do still minister from my bed and couch to woman who are out in the world and don’t always make time to open their Bibles every day, I can pour into them with emails and texts that have God’s word and other Christian encouragement for them, taking them out of their hectic day. God is Good all the time, all the time God is good!

“I will not let the awkward disappointments of others keep me from my Best Yes appointments with God.” Chapter 12, page 144 of “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#TheBestYes week 3: God Wink

“Choices and consequences come in package deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences that can come along with it.” –Lysa TerKeurst, “The Best Yes”

               God has blessed me with a Bible study of three. I meet with two young girls, the 17 year old is confident in who she is in Christ, has a strong Faith background through her parents, has found she is gifted and talented softball player, awesome at serving with children and singing. The biggest decision she is facing now is which college gets her. She is beautiful from the inside out and from a limited perspective on her life you would think she didn’t have a care in the world, that her life was comfortable, cozy and stress free. We come from two different worlds. At 17 I was a closet and high functioning alcoholic. While active in High School, a caretaker for my baby brother and already a hard worker the facade I had of being all together was paper thin.  The biggest decision facing me that year was how I would survive having to start my life over while choosing a college who would be stuck with me; I had been kicked out of my home because my Mother’s boyfriend hated me for being all the things he wasn’t: support for my Mom, having an obsessive work ethic and a great influence (yes even with an alcohol problem) for my baby brother. I didn’t have nor did I want God in my life let alone Jesus. From a limited perspective of my life you knew I was a mess and no one expected me to go to college, move very far from home and amounting to anything much, especially someone who could be loved.  
               The Bible Study has us reading, “Spoken For” by Alyssa Bethke and Robin Jones Gunn. Last April I felt God leading me to reach out to young woman and help them see how deeply He loves them. Help them to live confidently as Jesus girls who He pursues to have an intimate relationship with them. I had no idea then who God had for me to share this journey with but I knew I had to buy the book and get started with this ministry. The book has delivered, is even more of a blessing than I ever could have imagined. We are open and honest with each other and turns out even a charmed life has its stress and anxiety. God reaches out to that beautiful 17 year old with His promises of never leaving us nor forsaking us just as He reaches out to me.
“Spoken For” and “The Best Yes” collided in my life. I got to the middle of chapter 8 and that quote above glared at me. Not only did God need me to share how loved we are as his precious daughters but that even a messy life filled with many mistakes can be used to glorify Him. I wrote, “Must share with girls. Girls, regrets sting forever. God forgives and forgets our trespasses and God can help bring us to victory in forgiving ourselves but we never forget. Some mistakes leave scars that may never heal over in the corner of our minds.” This week at our home church the Pastor stood and declared, “Shame is often a wound that never scabs over.” WOW! Talk about a powerful message to turn to when the pressures of high school are haunting you. When fitting in: cursing, dressing provocatively or gossiping is easier than being a light for Jesus. When ministering to your friends and class mates seems a burden too big and unfair to carry at such a tender age. When you are facing that first year away from home, away from the Christian stability and accountability you have had your whole life will be so far away.
               When God speaks the same message through many different mediums I call it a God wink, so does she. Both of us are chosen, treasured and beloved to the King of Kings. The Creator of the universe put us together in this moment of time so I can see the beauty of being loved by a Mom who loves Jesus. So I can look back at one of the worst years of my life and thank God for bringing me through it even though I hated Him at the same time. Our Lord is showing her through me and other mentors that His wisdom is available to her when she is ready and willing to listen. God is good all the time, all the time God is good!

If you stay away from sin you will be like one of these dishes made of purest gold - the very best in the house – so that Christ himself can use you for His highest purposes. 2 Timothy 2:21TLB

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#TheBestYes Week 2 and my Big Takeaway

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-10 MSG

As I read through #TheBestYes this week as well as the testimonies in my FB Group, watched and read the P31 OBS Blog; one lesson was clear: God provides wisdom and expects us to choose to live our lives not only loving and obeying Him but applying wisdom, His wisdom to our everyday decisions. It was the first time I saw wisdom from the Bible in this way. I study the Bible and consider myself a student of God’s word so I am always learning but I know that is a gift and not how most people approach their spiritual life. I knew the book of Proverbs might as well be called the book of wisdom but I thought of it more as guidelines or advice. What Lysa Terkeurst (and Beth Moore) do for me, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is make God’s truth applicable to my everyday life, they show me how to take what I am learning and live it out. I always relied on them making His word come to life in such a way that my life would be improved but never really considered taking what I was reading in the Bible and using it as a road map for making every decision. God’s words are comfort when I am down, light when darkness is rising up, encouragement when I am hard on myself, a love letter from my Abba Father when the pain of not having an earthly father, a father of origin stings, motivation when life seems too hard to live, a lesson in how sin can destroy us and the most beautiful love story ever told when I am feeling unlovable but now it advices me for my day ahead. Take Philippians 1:9-10, which I have copied above. A week ago I would have looked at that verse and seen Jesus saying to me, “this is why you are celibate; I need you to be equipped with the way the Father and I love before you will ever be ready to have a romantic relationship again. This my precious daughter is why we don’t shoot off an email response or text when someone has pushed the wrong button and you take a minute to talk with us because those feelings you have are fickle and fleeting and when you see things from my perspective you can love that person instead of hate.” Now, I hear those things but I also hear how I am supposed to read a legal document someone who hurt me deeply needs me to read and sign, “Don’t hold back precious because you were hurt, look at this piece of paper as an assignment I have given you. Use the love I have for you and this other daughter of mine, love I have set apart as a tool to read the document. It is an act of love for me not an act of service for her. Don’t see the hurt Melissa; see the assignment which will be over and done as soon as we do it together instead of acting like it didn’t exist and keeping it hidden at church.” Some assignments God has for us are small: doing the dishes so you can have a stress free and focused time with Him and others like serving every week at church require a physical, emotional, spiritual and maybe even financial commitment. God may not actually have had Paul write you name in the Bible, the Holy Spirit may not have led those men to write about your exact issue that is troubling your heart but if you take a moment and read the Bible asking God for what wisdom He has for you there is a promise from me to you that it’s there. Ask and you shall receive. I wasn’t even asking tonight for wisdom about that  document, I was asking Him what He wanted me to blog about this week, He led me to open “The Best Yes” and review what He had for me this week and Lysa had this verse for us on the third page of our first chapter this week and because I had taken the time to look up the verse in another translation I had a note in the margin, “MSG translation is great: learn to love appropriately.”

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, Philippians 1:9-10 ESV